Finding relief for your bruxism by wearing a night guard is simple. After all, you just need to pop the appliance between your teeth before you settle in for a good night's sleep. Selecting a night guard requires a bit more effort. Should you opt for a drugstore model or a professional-grade product? Is soft better than hard? What other factors should you weigh? With so many types of night guards, the selection process can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, understanding your options helps you choose the right night guard for your needs.
How Night Guards Treat Bruxism
With bruxism, unconscious, repetitive teeth grinding and jaw clenching can cause headaches and neck, ear, face, and jaw pain. The persistent tension in the jaw muscles may also trigger or worsen TMJ disorders. To make matters worse, the pressure and friction from the grinding and clenching can harm teeth. These behaviors can set the stage for enamel loss, broken teeth, and other painful damage.
Night guards, which are also called dental guards, mouthguards, bite splints or bite plates, offer an effective way for grinders to treat bruxism symptoms and protect their oral health. As the American Sleep Association explains, night guards place a physical barrier between the surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. When teeth clenching happens, the right night guard serves as a protective cushion. It shields the enamel and reduces tension in the jaw muscles.
The Types of Night Guards
Before selecting a night guard, it's helpful to know what types of mouthguards are available. There are a few different ways that night guards can be categorized.
Over-the-counter Night Guards Versus Custom-fit Night Guards
You can find over-the-counter night guards on the shelves of your local drugstore. These are generally either one-size-fits-all or boil-and-bite models. They are inexpensive and relatively flimsy, so they're unlikely to last long or to work well for serious grinders.
Custom-fit night guards offer a more personalized solution. You can purchase these night guards through a dental office or an online outlet like Pro Teeth Guard. They're made in a professional lab using an impression of the wearer's mouth. They're made just for you using professional techniques and materials. As a result, they're often more comfortable and more durable. They also come in a range of materials, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
Night guards produced in professional labs typically come in three versions:
- Soft night guards: Made from flexible, rubbery materials, these night guards are designed for light or moderate grinders.
- Hard night guards: Made from a firmer plastic, these night guards are built to withstand the strain of heavy or severe grinding.
- Hybrid night guards: Sometimes called dual-laminate night guards, these products cover a soft inner core with a harder outer layer to provide heavy grinders with the right mix of comfort and protection.
When selecting a night guard, choosing the material that's right for your level of bruxism is vital. In addition, you may want to look closely at the exact materials used. For example, many grinders are wary of exposure to bisphenol A, a chemical used in some plastics that is linked to a variety of health issues. Fortunately, BPA-free night guards aren't hard to find.
Upper Teeth or Lower Teeth?
Night guards can be made to fit either the upper or lower teeth. Both options protect all your teeth, so choosing one is largely a matter of which fit is better for you. Night guards for the upper teeth are more common. They often stay in place well, and they don't block the tongue.
However, some people have a sensitive gag reflex or dental work on their upper teeth. These individuals may find a night guard fitted to the lower teeth more comfortable. Dentists also recommend night guards fitted to the lower teeth for people with sleep apnea.
Mouthguards for More Than Bruxism
Bruxism isn't the only condition treated with a mouthguard. Orthodontists often fit patients with orthodontic retainers to be worn at night to prevent teeth from shifting back after treatment. Meanwhile, mouthguards for sleep apnea push the wearer's jaw forward to help keep the airway open.
Mouthguards generally aren't designed to be worn in combination. If you could benefit from more than one type of mouthguard, talk with your dentist about which product is best for you. For example, may orthodontic patients who grind or clench are advised to use a custom-fit night guard for bruxism. That's because the appliance will provide enough support for their teeth and prevent damage from bruxism.
More to Think About
Learning how to choose the right night guard is an important first step. What other lessons will help you advance along the path to wellness?
Understanding matters of comfort and fit will help you feel more confident when using your night guard. Exploring what to expect while you're adjusting to wearing a night guard can also come in handy. Being aware of both the benefits of wearing a night guard and the potential side effects may be useful too. To protect your health and get the greatest return on your investment, you'll also want to discover how to care for your night guard.
At first glance, the many types available can make selecting the exact type of night guard tough. However, having options actually makes it easier to find one that suits your unique situation. Ultimately, educating yourself about your options and talking to your dentist can help you choose wisely.
Pro Teeth Guard offers custom-fit mouthguards online for an affordable price. Effectively the same mouthguards that you’d receive from a dentist, our night guards are made in a professional dental lab using high-quality materials and expert processes.